I have been writing, recently, about darkness of the spirit. These times aren’t necessarily negative. Sometimes, the sense of God may be present, but the sense of direction might not be, and there may also be a deep feeling of loss. Though unpleasant, these could be teachable moments that are necessary for our spiritual growth. In order to come through them, to keep our balance, to grow, and see what they have to teach us, we need to stay attached to God and our Christian community. Having and writing about this doesn’t mean that I am depressed, though I occasionally may be, nor does it mean that I’m in trouble. What it does mean is that I am learning to walk in the dark.
We share our stories for many reasons, and in this case two come to mind. We share to develop intimacy with others and to tell what God is doing and has done in our lives. This is a way of “telling the story”—not just God’s story but our story in God’s story; what God is doing, and has done, in our lives. And, as usual, I have one.
After brain surgery in 1992, when the doctor intentionally cut my balance nerve to correct a problem with dizziness and accompanying nausea caused by Meniere’s disease, it took me some time to be able to stay upright without having a horizon upon which to focus. I still have to pay close attention to my walking and I have hardly any balance in the dark, especially if I’m not expecting dark.
Once when I was attending my annual spiritual director’s retreat, the facility director, in his opening remarks to attendees, told us that the smoke detectors, recently installed, would sometimes malfunction and sound off for no apparent reason. If they did so in the night, he told us the best thing to do, if we couldn’t disable it ourselves, would be to go to the office, in my case downstairs, find the phone and call him. I said a quick, silent prayer to God that this wouldn’t happen. But…!!
In the middle of the night, my detector started blaring. I can’t get up on chairs – the balance thing – and I wouldn’t be able to reach it, anyway – the short thing – and to go downstairs in the dark to the office (note to self: bring a flashlight next year), find his number and then call him, all while the alarm is waking everyone, was impossible. This would happen to me. I so love calling attention to myself.
As I put on my bathrobe, there was a knock on the door. A woman’s voice asked if she could come in and disable the alarm for me. Oh, YES!! Please! She did, I thanked her profusely and went back to bed. The next morning she was nowhere to be found. Perhaps, she was an angel sent by God to rescue me. I’ll take that.
Is there a point to this story aside from bringing a flashlight and writing down a phone number (I now have a smarter phone)? Well, maybe, when its dark all around and you don’t know where you are or how to find your way, be patient. God, who loves you, knows how to get through to you, care for you and even guide you. Darkness doesn’t last forever.
Today, this quote was posted on Trinity’s Facebook page:
“People who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness, but they choose not to live in it. They claim that the light that shines in the darkness can be trusted more than the darkness itself and that a little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness. They point each other to flashes of light here and there, and remind each other that they reveal the hidden but real presence of God.” ~ Henri Nouwen
Grace and Peace, Donna